Emergence Magazine

Marie’s Dictionary

by Emmanuel Vaughan-Lee

This short documentary tells the story of Marie Wilcox, the last fluent speaker of the Wukchumni language and the dictionary she created in an effort to keep her language alive.

At the age of eighty-five, Marie Wilcox is the only remaining fluent speaker of Wukchumni, a dialect of the Tule-Kaweah language from the Yokuts tribal group, which originated along the Tule and Kaweah Rivers of Central California. For twenty years, Marie documented her language—word by word—in the form of a written and spoken dictionary, the first work of its kind in the Wukchumni language. Now Marie and her daughter, Jennifer Malone, alongside other family members, are embarking on an ambitious project of language revitalization.


Emmanuel Vaughan-Lee is an Emmy nominated filmmaker and composer. His award-winning films have been featured on PBS, National Geographic, the New York Times, the New Yorker, and the Atlantic, exhibited at the Smithsonian, and screened at festivals worldwide. He is the executive editor of Emergence Magazine.


Directed & Produced by Emmanuel Vaughan-Lee
Cinematography by Vanessa Carr
Edited by Adam Loften
Music by H. Scott Salinas

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